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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Day 70: Mark 3:1-21 & Psalm 71 - How Does God's Kingdom Clash with the Kingdom of this World?

Today's Reading: Mark 3:1-21 & Psalm 71

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How Does God's Kingdom Clash with the Kingdom of this World?

The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him,
how to destroy him. - Mark 3:6, ESV

What do Pharisees, Herodians and demons all have in common? No, this isn't the set-up line for a really bad joke. Rather, today's passage reveals how the powers of this fallen world, usually in opposition to each other, are united in their opposition to Jesus, His Gospel and His kingdom. 

Pharisees and Herodians were not natural friends. Pharisees were Jewish nationalists and religious purists, who sought to see Romans rule over Judea overthrown. They thought that by keeping the law, especially the Sabbath, the Jewish people could earn a deliverance from God out of the hands of their enemies. The Herodians supported Herod and his family in their rule over God's people. Thus, they supported the reign of Edomite puppets of Rome, the oppressors of God's people. Normally, these two groups would have nothing in common, but they held counsel together against Jesus, to destroy Him.     

Then, right after the Pharisees and Herodians conspire together against Jesus, we see Jesus taking the offensive against Satan. He casts out demons and then gives His disciples authority to preach the Gospel and cast out demons. Thus, we see that Jesus' reign not only threatens the religious and political power-brokers but the spiritual oppressors of God's people, too.

Jesus' kingdom comes into the world through the proclamation of the Gospel and the demonstration of His salvation power. As His kingdom comes, it is a direct challenge to all who would hold onto power for themselves and for their own glory - especially if the exercise of that power involves the oppression of God's people. This is spiritual warfare, kingdom conflict fueled by the Gospel light breaking into the darkness and the salvation of God breaking the chains of bondage from God's people.     

The call for the church is to preach the Gospel and demonstrate the salvation of God in transformed lives lived in community and outreach too the world. We are to preach the Gospel and seek to set the prisoners free from Satan's deception and oppression. As we do so, we should fully expect opposition. We should anticipate hatred from the world, not because we hate them, but because our king threatens their power. 

In the midst of this kingdom conflict, we should maintain our confidence and joy, knowing that the decisive victory has already been won. We should also remember that we are not called to fight using the world's weapons or methods. Our weapons are the word of God, prayer and love. We will never truly win if we betray our king and His kingdom priorities. But following Him, we already have the victory!

NOTE: I will be preaching three messages on The Fight of Faith, based on Ephesians 6:10-20. These messages will be a good follow-up on the theme of kingdom conflict. Find out more information here

Prayer Based on Psalm 71: 

This psalm is a wonderful prayer that needs little adaptation - 

In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame!
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
    incline your ear to me, and save me!
Be to me a rock of refuge,
    to which I may continually come;
you have given the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
    my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
    you are he who took me from my mother's womb.
My praise is continually of you.

My mouth is filled with your praise,
    and with your glory all the day.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age;
    forsake me not when my strength is spent.

For my enemies speak concerning me;
    those who watch for my life consult together
and say, “God has forsaken him;
    pursue and seize him,
    for there is none to deliver him.”
O God, be not far from me;
    O my God, make haste to help me!
May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
    with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
    who seek my hurt.
But I will hope continually
    and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all the day,
    for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
    I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
    and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
    your power to all those to come.
Your righteousness, O God,
    reaches the high heavens.
You who have done great things,
    O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
    and comfort me again.

I will also praise you with my whole heart
    for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to you,
    O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will shout for joy,
    when I sing praises to you;
    my soul also, which you have redeemed.
And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
for they have been put to shame and disappointed
    who sought to do me hurt.


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